05 November 2014

Studying Law is Easy . . .

At least that is what Bundesgerichtshof Judge Thomas Fischer recently told Die Zeit. Fischer makes numerous observations about the shortcomings of the German legal education (whether they are fair or not, I will not judge) and more importantly, he draws a comparison to the study of law in common law countries:
ZEIT Campus: Was fehlt den Absolventen?
Fischer: Meistens die Softskills, also die sozialpsychologischen Fähigkeiten. Die werden fast nicht gelehrt: Verhandlungskompetenz erwirbt man im Studium nicht, den meisten mangelt es auch an kommunikativer Sorgfalt.
ZEIT Campus: Warum wäre das wichtig?
Fischer: Jura ist eine Wissenschaft, die sich fast ausschließlich mit Sprache beschäftigt. Sie müssen im Beruf Reden halten, Positionen verteidigen, Konfliktsituationen lösen und vor allem Empathie für fremde Personen haben.
ZEIT Campus: Kann man das an der Uni lernen?
Fischer: Im angloamerikanischen Raum fordern Professoren die Studenten ständig auf, ihre Meinung zu sagen und sich mit Gegenpositionen auseinanderzusetzen. Sie sind von Anfang an in einem System, das sie in die Lage versetzt, juristische Berufe auszuüben.
The rest of the interview is well worth a read. His views on the Repetitorien (he refers to it as a "sinnloser Aufwand") and why making big money working for a large law firm might not be worth it are amusing. The comments made by readers are rather amusing as well.

30 October 2014

Politicians as Supreme Court Justices

There once was a time where tried and test politicians were appointed to the highest court in America. Perhaps the most famous of these is former Chief Justice Earl Warren, who was Governor of California before being appointed to the high court, and one former President sat on the Court AFTER serving as President! The National Constitutional Center recently posted an article tracing the history of appointing politicians to the high court in the context of whether President Obama might one day be interesting in serving there.

27 October 2014

Judicial Elections, Jury Nullification?

The headline of a recent Great Fall Tribune article reads "Supreme Court Candidate supports jury nullification." Within the next few weeks students in all of my courses should understand what the article means by "court candidate" (yes, some judges in America are elected by popular vote!) and "jury nullification." For a sneak peak, take a look at the article.

25 October 2014

Does Supreme Court Silence Mean Something

The National Constitutional Center recently posted an article focusing on what the Supreme Court means to say when it rejects hearing a case on appeal. The Center's Lyle Denniston explains:
At the beginning of each term, in early October, the court turns down hundreds of cases that have built up on its docket over its summer recess. If it had to explain each refusal, the task would be simply unmanageable. But it is frustrating, to the public as a whole and to lawyers, lower court judges and journalists, when the court does not say why it denies review of a really big case, or cases.
That happened, on opening day this term, when the Justices turned aside seven appeals dealing with the issue of same-sex marriage. In each of those seven, coming from five different states, a federal appeals court had ruled unconstitutional a state’s ban on such marriages – and each appeals court had done so with a full opinion, going over all of the reasons.
The rest of the explanation can be found here.

22 October 2014

Five Key UK Supreme Court Cases

Lord Neuberger talks about the five most important cases decided by the relatively new UK Supreme Court in the past five years. The article is worth a quick read.

10 July 2014

So what happens when a superstar gets selected for jury duty in New York? Find out here.

08 July 2014

SZ: "Fünf ältere Herren gegen das liberale Amerika"

The SZ recently had a piece with the catchy title above. Their take concerned a recent Supreme Court decision that some claim is anti-woman. Students of American Law should give it a quick look. It's in German!

07 July 2014

The always informative Constitution Center website has a fascinating post asking the question of whether it is too hard to amend the U.S. Constitution. For a review of what is necessary to make changes to the constitution, I encourage you to check out the post.

03 July 2014

Can Congress Sue the President

Republicans in Congress are mad. They are mad at President Obama for, as they claim, failing to enforce the laws they have passed. They are so mad that they are threatening to sue the President. But can they do that? In class, as part of our discussion about the "cases and controversies" requirement found in Article III of the Constitution, I have basically told you that the answer is no. See what the experts think.

02 July 2014

Unanimity on the Supreme Court

As students of American law well know, at least those who have read U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the Court rarely speaks with one voice. Almost every opinion issued by the Court these days seems to have concurring and dissenting opinions attached to them. There is an interesting discussion going on among legal scholars in the U.S. about a new rash of unanimous rulings issued by the Court over the past few weeks. Some argue that this is a dawning of a new day, while others say that this unanimity is nothing more than window dressing (i.e. it is a mirage, it does not really exists). Follow the links above to get a taste of this very important discussion. Your ability to understand the discussion is one way to test whether you understand the importance of the rationale in a written court opinion.